It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about basketball season, (though this year has the makings to be quite special for all the local teams) I’m talking about winterizing your Louisville home.
Now, home maintenance is far from a sexy topic, so I’m going to make this as easy and painless as possible. Heck, you could print this article out and hand it to your favorite Louisville handyman and viola! No muss, no fuss.
Let’s get started.
1. Test your smoke & carbon monoxide detectors
Safety comes first! Set up a regular calendar reminder to check your smoke detectors twice a year. For homes where the smoke detectors are not hard-wired, then changing the batteries to the new 10-year lithium batteries makes a lot of sense.
Smoke detectors themselves are not expensive pieces of equipment and may need to be swapped out as well. This also goes for a carbon monoxide detectors, which every home should have. If you have natural gas anything in your home (furnace, range, etc.) you need one of these.
2. Remove potential tree problemsLouisville isn’t known for harsh winters, but from time to time we do receive our fair share of hail and ice. Does anyone remember the ice storms in ’03 and ’09?
Now is a great time to inspect the trees near your home for any limbs or branches that might need to be removed. You don’t want to wake up Christmas morning with an uninvited wooden guest crashing through your roof.
Also, if you have any specialty plantings that need to be winterized, this is a good time to handle that project as well.
3. Inspect your roof
A yearly roof inspection should be part of your standard Louisville home maintenance. Look for loose shingles, cracked vent boots or flashing that has pulled away. Taking care of these issues now, before any snow comes, is a smart move.
This would also be a great time to clean those gutters! Yeah, I know, not so much fun, right?
4. Eliminate window and door air gaps
Make sure that your windows are properly calked. Also, replace any weather-proofing on the exterior doors that isn’t performing its job. These are easy tasks that most homeowners with a ladder can handle on their own. Plus, they really pay off in reduced energy costs.
5. Seal the driveway and sidewalk
This might be a job you’ve handled recently, but if not, this is a wonderful time to seal your driveway/sidewalk before the rough weather arrives. Studies show that concrete that is sealed, cracks less and lasts longer than untreated concrete.
Keep in mind, the claims on most sealants are far grander than reality. Expect most brand name masonry sealants to last just 2-3 years.
6. Change your furnace filter
Here’s an easy one! Some filters need to be replaced every couple of months. A few of the more expensive ones can last as long as 6 months.
You can judge for yourself what intervals work best for your home by seeing how dirty the filter is when you change it. For most homes, this is the only method of removing dirt, allergens and other harmful particles from the air your family breathes, so changing filters more often is generally sound advice.
7. Evaluate/improve your attic insulationYou do not need to do this every year, but with our high energy costs, it certainly would be worthwhile to have an expert evaluate your attic insulation. According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling your Louisville home accounts for about 54% of your utility bill.
If you currently have insufficient insulation, correcting this problem could really pay off.
8. Seal any heating vent gaps
This is another yearly task that we can tackle before the cold weather arrives. Check the heating vents in your basement, crawl space and attic for spots where the valuable hot air might be escaping. Duct tape is fine, but the pros use foil tape made from aluminum for a reason—it’s much better.
9. Test your sump pump
Most people don’t check their sump pump often enough. Honestly, it’s easy to forget. Use this winterizing check list as a reminder to check that this important device is working properly.
Water in your basement is every homeowner’s nightmare, so make sure your sump pump is in great working condition.
10. Reverse your ceiling fans
I saved an easy one for last. Don’t forget to reverse your ceiling fans. In the winter, we want to force the warm air down, while in the summer we want it to move higher. Makes sense right?
Bonus Tip: Shut-off exterior spigots
You may still be using exterior water hoses, but don’t forget to shut off the lines that run to the exterior spigots before the first freeze. Once off, drain the remaining water in the pipe and leave the valve open. This reduces the likelihood of freezing pipes and expensive repairs.
If you complete all these jobs, you and your home will be ready to withstand even the harshest Louisville Winter.